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Kennesaw State Wins Its First Championship

March 28, 2004|From Times Wire Reports

BAKERSFIELD — Terrence Hill scored 26 points to lead Kennesaw State to an 84-59 victory over Southern Indiana and its first Division II national championship Saturday in front of 1,653 in the Centennial Garden at Cal State Bakersfield.

The Owls (35-4) used a smothering defense that had the Screaming Eagles (28-7) out of sync and struggling from three-point range.

"It's a humbling experience to be here tonight," Coach Tony Ingle said. "This is our players' moment.... This is our championship. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to be an overnight success. We came to win a championship ... and we did that."

Hill was eight of 16 from the field, including four three-point baskets. He also had seven rebounds and was named tournament most valuable player.

"Terrence Hill wasn't going to let us lose," Ingle said. "We kept refocusing on our defense the entire game. We were already here mentally before we got here physically."

Kennesaw center Georgy Joseph scored 15 points and had nine rebounds, and joined Hill on the all-tournament team. Kevin McDonald also turned in a strong defensive game for the Georgia school with five steals while scoring 10 points.

Southern Indiana, making its first appearance in the Division II tournament since winning the 1995 national championship, got 15 points and 10 rebounds from Randy Holbrook.

The Screaming Eagles, who were 17 of 47 on three-point shots in their first two games of the eight-team tournament, were four for 17 in the final.

"Kennesaw State played tremendous defense," Southern Indiana Coach Rick Herdes said. "They're a great defensive team. They took us out of everything we did. They manhandled us."

Southern Indiana jumped to a 10-2 lead in the opening minutes, but the Owls scored 11 of the next 13 points to take the lead for good. They outscored the Screaming Eagles, 9-3, in the first seven minutes of the second half and were never threatened.

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